Barbara Jelavich Book Prize

2021 Citation Recipient


Francine Hirsch

The Barbara Jelavich Book Prize, established in 1995 and sponsored by the Jelavich estate, is awarded annually for a distinguished monograph published on any aspect of Southeast European or Habsburg studies since 1600, or nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ottoman or Russian diplomatic history in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Francine Hirsch
Title: Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II (Oxford University Press).

This groundbreaking book, superbly written and expertly crafted, offers a wide-ranging account of the Soviet role in the Nuremberg Trials based on original research into this large and ambitious topic. Working from untapped Soviet archives, Hirsch focuses her masterful narrative on the Soviet state’s post-World War II struggle to “win the peace” even as the Cold War deepened. Hirsch’s research exposes the challenges and predicaments faced by the Soviet legal team as they worked alongside their American, British, and French counterparts to expose Nazi crimes against humanity – while at the same time trying to camouflage Soviet crimes, such as the Katyn massacre, which they awkwardly tried to add to the long balance sheet of Nazi atrocities. Hirsch brings to life the day-to-day workings of the Stalinist bureaucracy as Soviet lawyers, correspondents, and translators managed the shifting expectations of their superiors in Moscow, sorted through piles of evidence, drafted their cases, and hosted parties for the other prosecutorial teams. The author skillfully balances details of the shocking trial testimony about Nazi war crimes with intimate and humane portraits of the people involved with the trial. The book thoroughly revises the standard Cold War-era narrative of Nuremberg, which scarcely recognizes the Soviet contribution to the proceedings. Hirsch’s unearthing of the full story of Nuremberg transforms our understanding of global legal history and human rights in the twentieth century.

Honorable Mention: Dominique Kirchner Reill
Title: The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire (Harvard University Press).

Reill’s delightful book introduces readers to the struggles and triumphs of the multilingual and multiethnic citizens of the Adriatic city of Fiume (today Rijeka) as they navigated a governmental crisis following the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and struggled to replace the “benefits of cosmopolitan empire.” Left without a national affiliation in 1918 and occupied for more than fifteen months in 1919-1920 by the forces of poet-soldier Gabriel D’Annunzio, who supported Italian annexation of the city, Reill tells the story of the Fiume Crisis from a multiplicity of creative and unexpected angles. We read with equal fascination about high politics and diplomacy, military history, currency reforms, and their impact on everyday social, cultural, and economic life. Reill’s enthusiasm for her topic and its relevance to many of the century’s vexing historical questions jumps off the page as she joyfully narrates the story, which culminates in the rise of fascism and Mussolini’s 1924 annexation of the city. This important contribution to the history of modern Europe reminds us that nationalism is not the only driving